Monday, September 8, 2008


How to Use Dowsing or Divining Rods

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Before technology came about that would allow us to "see" into the ground, people depended on dowsing (also known divining or water witching) to find water wells, metals, gemstones, and even missing people and unmarked graves. Although dowsing has never been scientifically proven to work in a controlled setting,[1][2] the practice remains popular in many parts of the world.[3][4] It's been suggested that humans may be able to sense electric and magnetic energy that's invisible to the eye (as many animals can)[5] and subconsciously manipulate the dowsing rods or pendulum to reflect that information (the ideomotor effect).[6] Whether you're a stout defender of dowsing or you think it's hogwash, doing your own experiment can be both educational (from a historical perspective) and fun.


  1. Obtain a dowsing rod.
    • Find a forked ("Y"-shaped) branch from a tree or bush. Hold the two ends on the forked side, one in each hand. You may want to experiment with holding it with your palms facing up or down; one may be more effective than the other. Hazel or willow branches were commonly used because they were light and porous, and were believed to better absorb vapors rising from buried metals or water, thus weighing down the unforked end and pointing towards the source.[7]
    • Bend two identical pieces of wire into an "L" shape and hold one in each hand by the short part of the "L" so that the long part is parallel with the ground and so they can swing freely from side to side. You can use coat hangers to make these rods. Some dowsers claim certain metals, such as brass, to be more effective.[8]
    • Make a pendulum by suspending a weight (such as a stone or crystal) by a string or chain. Pendulums are used with maps or to answer yes/no questions, rather than to guide the dowser on unfamiliar terrain; instructions for using a pendulum are given in a separate section below.

  2. Relax. Whether you're priming yourself to receive paranormal insight, or you're relaxing your muscles so they can better transmit the ideomotor effect, or you're just experimenting with this for fun, relaxing will make it a more effective or enjoyable experience. Take a few deep breaths or meditate for a minute or two.
  3. Calibrate your dowsing rod(s). Lay out cards numbered 1-5 face up and in a line with about 1-2 feet (1/2 meter) of separation between each card. Start at one end, holding your dowsing rod(s), and make a request, like "Show me where the card labeled 4 is". Close your eyes and visualize the card you want the rod(s) to find for you. Then open your eyes and walk slowly next to the line of cards with your dowsing rod(s) over them, pausing over each one, and see what happens when you go over the card you requested. You may find that the wooden rod points downward, or the metal rods cross each other.
  4. Test your dowsing abilities. Repeat the previous step, but this time, shuffle the cards and put them on the ground facing down, so you don't know which is which. Make your request and see if you can correctly identify the card you requested by dowsing. If you can't, either you're a bad dowser (you're not focused or relaxed enough, you're psychically challenged, you're holding the rod(s) incorrectly, or you're too skeptical to allow dowsing to work for you) or dowsing is nothing more than superstition punctuated by coincidence. You decide.

Pendulum Dowsing
  1. Calibrate the pendulum. Hold it perfectly still over a bare surface, then ask a specific question to which you know the answer is "yes". Does it go in a circle (if so, clockwise or counter-clockwise?), swing right to left, or swing up and down? This is your "yes" answer. Repeat to find a "no" answer. If your goal is to find a lost person or object, hold the pendulum over a picture of that person or object and see what the pendulum does.
  2. Hold the pendulum over an object or person and make a request. The simplest way to use a pendulum is to ask a specific, yes or no question and see what the pendulum does. A dowsing pendulum can also be used in other ways:
    • For map dowsing, hold the pendulum still over the map and make a request (e.g. "Show me where this object or person is"). Move the pendulum slowly over all areas of the map until you see activity that coincides with your calibration. This type of dowsing was used by the German Navy in Nazi Germany.[9]
    • Write several answers on a piece of paper, leaving the center blank. Hold the pendulum over the center and ask a question. Watch the pendulum carefully to see in which direction it swings. Which answer does it point to? (This is similar to using an ouija board.)
    • Radiesthesia is the practice of using dowsing to make a medical diagnosis. A common technique is to hold the pendulum over a pregnant woman's stomach to identify the gender of the child. It's not wise, however, to depend on a pendulum for medical advice.



  • Whatever it is that you're trying to find through dowsing, visualize it as clearly as you can.
  • The "L"-shaped rods will only perform well when parallel to the ground. Do not let the rods droop towards the ground.
  • Once you've found a water source with rods, you may be able to use a stiff pendulum (a floppy horizontal wire with a weight at the end) to determine how deep the well is by counting how many times it bobs.[10]


  • Make sure your dowsing area is clear of other people. Do not use the rods in a crowded place or in close proximity to other people because someone could get poked and injured. (It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye). Besides, the rods might pick up energy fields from other people and they won't work.
  • It is tempting to stare at the rods while you are working. Please be mindful of where you are walking though so you do not trip on something or fall in a well.
  • Place your bets on dowsing at your own risk.

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Nan said...

Did we ever mention Ray can do water witching? It apparently runs in families because his grandfather was well known for the talent. He said it was a really odd feeling the first time he tried and it worked.

Tracy said...

I didn't know that. My grandfather could do it, too. I tried it once, using l-shaped wires to find a water line. It did work, but I don't fully trust my ability because it's very subtle and (I think) easy to misinterpret.